Move over Socks: the Clintons acquire a First Dog
One of the country’s most respected commentators on Russia, the EU and the US, Mary Dejevsky has worked as a foreign correspondent all over the world, including Washington, Paris and Moscow. She is now the chief editorial writer and a columnist at The Independent and regularly appears on radio and television. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham.
Monday 08 December 1997
Washington is abuzz with the news that the Clintons have decided on the addition to their household of a three-month old puppy.
Said animal, a chocolate-brown labrador-retriever cross, was taken to visit his new owners for their approval last week, spent half an hour undergoing the presidential-compatibility test on the White House lawn, and was then immediately whisked away for training.
The First Dog obedience course, according to the White House, will not - at least in the first instance - be about retrieving President Clinton's golf balls, but rather more basic: "like not on the Oval Office rug', said a White House spokesman.
The arrival of the dog - as yet unnamed - will allow President Clinton to claim his place in a long line of White House dog-owners.
His four predecessors all had dogs - George Bush's late lamented spaniel, Millie, was the most recent First Dog. A First Cat was something of a departure.
In gossip-ridden Washington views differ about the reasons for the new arrival. Are the President and Mrs Clinton pining for their daughter, Chelsea - now in her first year at Stanford University in California - so much that they need another focus for their affections?
Has Chelsea's departure left Socks without a patron sufficiently powerful to protect his interests?
Is the President feeling his age to the point where he is giving up jogging for dog-walking?
Or is he so fed up with his security detail that he is considering alternatives?
The favoured explanation is that the rarefied world of Washington politics and Hillary's whistle-stop world tours may finally be getting to him.
Much quoted over the weekend has been President Harry Truman's quip: "If you need a friend in Washington, get a dog." Well, he just did.
-- Mary Dejevsky
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